F

Fan leaf
A pathogenic virus of the family Comoviridae that causes degeneration in the vine. The leaves turn yellow and the yields are reduced drastically. The life of the vine is also reduced.
Fat
A term used for full-bodied wines that display intense flavors.
Fattoria
A large wine estate in Italian.
Fault
An unpleasant characteristic. A more serious problem than a simple “wine flaw”, a wine fault is mostly caused by inappropriate winemaking or wine storage. It can range from making the experience of drinking wine less pleasant, to the point where it can make a wine totally undrinkable. Common examples are oxidation, heat damage, cork taint (TCA) and mousiness (caused by Brettanomyces).
Feminine
A positive tasting term for wines that present elegance, charm and refinement; rather than power, muscle and weight (the characterization of a “masculine wine”).
Fermentation
The most important part in the winemaking process. Sugar is transformed into alcohol by yeast. Traditionally this process occurred in oak barrels, but today it is usually performed in stainless steel tanks.
Fertigation
The technique of applying liquid fertilizers through an irrigation system. It makes the nutrients immediately available to the vines, which can very quickly improve any deficient levels in the vines.
Fiasco
Italian word for the straw-covered bottle used mostly (but not only) for Chianti wines.
Filter
A device used to remove selected particles from the wine. There are mainly two types of filters; pad and membrane. In pad filters, the higher the number, the finer the filter. Membrane filters are made of synthetic polymers (cellulose esters) that have uniform tiny holes at the microgen range. The membrane filter is a surface filter, in contrast to the pad filter, which is a depth filter. The common sizes in membrane filters are 1.2, 0.65 and 0.65 microns. The bigger size will block most of the yeast cells and the finest size will block most spoilage bacteria (0.45 = sterile filtering, common for white wine bottling).
Filtration
A process used to clarify wine. After it goes through a fining process, the sediments are easily filtered from the wine. The need for filtering is that a clear wine tastes better than the same wine when it is turbid.
Fine
High quality wines are generally described as “fine”.
Finesse
A tasting term for a wine that presents distinctive balance. Another word to describe such a wine is “elegant”.
Fining
It is the operation of adding certain substances to wine, to improve its appearance (turbidity, color), to remove some off-flavor, and to prevent some potential instability which may develop in the future by some wine components (in certain cases the fining agents may themselves contribute either an off-flavor, added instability to wine, or reduction of its natural flavor). Bentonite is one of the two major agents (the other one is silica-gel) used for the protein removal from wine. It is a mineral material that interacts very fast with proteins (a matter of minutes). Afterwards, the absorbed proteins slowly settle by gravitation of the bentonite particles to form bentonite lees at the bottom of the tank. Other products used for fining are: Gelatin, Isinglass, Casein, Egg white (albumin), PVPP, and Carbon.
Finish
Term used for the lingering aftertaste of a wine after it has been swallowed. Great wines are supposed to have a long finish. The opposite holds true for wines that have a short finish (or no finish at all).
Firm
A tasting description of wines that are very well structured, probably because they have quite high levels of tannins.
Flabby
The low acidity in the wine will show a lack of structure and the consequent flaccidity.
Flash pasteurization
A physical process capable of complementing the antimicrobial properties of sulphur dioxide. It is the destruction of germs by heat and it is done at about 80C (176F) for a few seconds.
Flat
A negative tasting term that refers to a wine that tastes dreary.
Flavonoids
It is found mostly in grape skins, since red wine is produced by fermentation in the presence of the grape skins (maceration), it contains higher levels of flavonoids than white wines (that are produced with no contact with the skins). They act as powerful antioxidants, protecting against oxidative and free radical damage.
Flavor
It is the sensory impression felt in the mouth caused by the aromatic compounds existent in a wine.
Fleshy
Same as meaty. A positive tasting descriptor for a wine with high alcohol and lots of dry extract. A wine with a firm structure is also said to be fleshy.
Flinty
A tasting description of a wine that presents the mineral character of the limestone soil in which the grapes grows.
Flocculation
Fining. The term is used to refer to the process by which fine particles are caused to clump together into flock. The flock may then be easily filtered from the wine.
Flor
It acts as a protective blanket over the wine that shielded it from excessive oxidation. It is the yeast responsible for the character of dry Sherries (Fino, Manzanilla). If the Flor dies, it sinks to the bottom of the barrel, and the resulting wine is an Amontillado. Oloroso is the name of the wine if no Flor developed and Palo Cortado is a style of Sherry that results from the partial development of Flor.
Floraison
French word for flowering.
Floral
If the aroma of a wine suggests flowers, it’s said to be flowery or floral. Monoterpenes (geraniol and linalool for example) are responsible for the floral aromas of wines produced from grape varieties such as Gewürztraminer, Muscat and Riesling.
Focused
A positive tasting descriptor for a wine which aromas and flavors are clearly defined.
Fortificato
Italian word for fortified. A wine to which alcohol (brandy) has been added. It will generally kill the yeasts to prevent further fermentation, and the wine will present a high percentage of residual sugar (along with a high alcohol level).
Fortified Wine
Wine to which alcohol (brandy) has been added. It will generally kill the yeasts to prevent further fermentation, and the wine will present a high percentage of residual sugar (along with a high alcohol level).
Forward
A wine that is suited for early consumption (as soon as it is released).
Foudre
Sizeable oak barrels commonly used in the Rhône Valley in France. They diverge a great deal in size, but normally have a much bigger capacity than the traditional barrique ( Bordeaux barrel with a capacity for 225 liters).
Foulage
French winemaking term for crushing.
Foxy
The Vitis labrusca grapes native of North America can produce wines with musty odors and grapy flavors known as “foxy”.
Free run
It is the juice obtained from grapes without the use of a press.
Free-run wine
The juice released after the grapes are crushed.The best wine is obtained from the free-run must to which the first press wine may be combined.
Fresh
A positive tasting descriptor for a wine that has enough acidity, making it refreshing on the palate.
Frizzante
Italian for a slightly effervescent; semi-sparkling wine.
Fruit
Usually, the term used by grape growers instead of grapes.
Fruity
A tasting term used to describe a wine (usually young) that reminds you of fresh fruit.
Fruttato
Italian word for fruity. A tasting term used to describe a wine (usually young) that reminds you of fresh fruit.
Full-bodied
Wines that give the impression of being heavy in the mouth. A high alcohol content (along with tannins and intense flavors) will cause this sensation.
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